Blockbuster revives Netflix promotion


DALLAS -- Blockbuster Inc. is reviving a promotion it used in December to target customers of rival online movie-order service Netflix Inc.

Blockbuster said Thursday that through next Wednesday, current Netflix subscribers who bring in flaps from that company's movie-return envelopes can get free movie rentals.

Dallas-based Blockbuster tried a similar offer to Netflix customers for more than two weeks in December. At the same time, Blockbuster is running an advertising campaign stressing that customers can go to a store to get a movie immediately without waiting for a new one to show up in the mail.

Blockbuster declined to say how many takers it got for the December offer. Spokesman Randy Hargrove said the company considered the promotion a success by telling Netflix customers about a Blockbuster service that combines online ordering and in-store rentals.

Both companies are trying to increase the immediacy of their product and position themselves for the day when most renters will get their movies over the Internet.

Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix announced last month that it was beginning to show movies and TV episodes over the Internet, gradually offering the feature to all its customers by June.

"It answers that immediate need without getting in the car and driving to the store," said Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey.

Like Blockbuster, Netflix wouldn't say if it felt any effect from Blockbuster's December promotion aimed at its customers. Swasey said only that the company hit its financial goals in the fourth quarter, which included December.

Blockbuster said it ended 2006 with 2 million paying online subscribers. Netflix said it ended the year with 6.3 million customers.